The IMDT For Today's Dog Trainers & Behaviourists
I started working seriously with dogs when I acquired my first German Shepherd puppy, Dieter, in 1980. Along with my sister-in-law Valerie Rowley, who bred Dieter, we started the Wits Kennel Club Training Division which became one of the top competitive clubs in the then Transvaal . Whilst with the club I successfully competed in numerous Obedience and Working Trials competitions.
I trained with and under the late Des Kloech one of the leading dog trainers of the time and was one of the original eight people to complete the first FCI/IWT (now IPO) assailant/helper course held in South Africa by leading Belgium FCI instructors.
I have instructed at numerous clubs in the different aspects of dog training including obedience, tracking, agility and protection training.
While instructing at the Doberman Club at Marks Park I assisted in setting up a training class for adult dogs that had never been socialised as puppies or had ever had any form of or integration with other dogs. The classes were devised to not only give the dogs basic obedience training but to teach the owners how to read their dog’s body language and understand why they might behave in a particular way.
During this time I heard about Linda Tellington-Jones and her TTouch methods for helping with behavioural and physical problems in animals. I completed an introductory seminar and follow-up workshops given by Eugene Chopin.
In 2010 I was asked by Tracy McQuarrie, founder of Dogtown SA if I would assist with rehabilitating abused and mistreated dogs that were brought to the Centre. On accepting, I grossly underestimated the enormity of the task and as a result, I decided to join Dogtown on a full-time basis. I soon realised that working in animal rehabilitation required a lot more knowledge than I had which prompted me to enrol with COAPE SA and in 2014 qualified with an Advanced Diploma in Animal Behaviour.
In 2017 I acquired full membership with the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT) in the UK and in doing so became the first person in South Africa to be IMDT accredited.
I now hold the position of Head Behaviourist at Dogtown, a position which is as rewarding as it is challenging and never has the statement “every day is different” been more appropriate than in the domain of animal rehabilitation and helping misunderstood dogs to reach their true potential. The dedication displayed by the caregivers when working with the dogs, be it implementing a specific behaviour modification program for a particular dog or simply taking the dogs on mass for a social walk, is truly fulfilling for me. I also have the bonus of being one of the teams who get to take rehabilitated dogs to their forever homes when they get adopted.